We are in new territory at this time and that is always unsettling. Each day the rules for staying safe change and it’s no wonder we are anxious. It is important to understand that children pick up on our anxiety. It’s on our face, the way we hold our body, and the tone of our voice. As a parent, you need to be sure to take time for yourself when you can. To settle an activated nervous system, some people enjoy a bath, listening to music, singing, reading or doing yoga stretches. Taking deep breaths often throughout the day with more time on the exhales will help.
Parents are working hard to do the best for their children during this time. As parents we want to keep updated on the virus, but we need to be careful not to let our children see or hear all these reports as they can be very scary for them. If they do see something, be sure to point out all the helpers (all the people helping to make the situation better).
Children are in tune with their environments and are most likely aware something is going on. When you discuss the virus, answer questions in an age appropriate way, you don’t need to give too much information. You can ask what they have heard and correct misinformation. Treat this virus much like other flu explanations you have given and stress the need for keeping germs from spreading.
Check in with your child and ask how your child is feeling in a general way. Your child may be worried about themselves and you. Assure your child you are a strong family and working now to keep others safe. Empower your child by teaching them how to wash their hands and to sneeze and cough into their cough pockets (inside of elbow).
Most of us are in the midst of school closings. Many parents are caring for children while also working from home. This is a lot to be taking on and can be very stressful. Your stress load affects your child and your child’s can affect you. To help your child manage anxiety, give them predictability by making a schedule for the week. For younger children use pictures of activities. Schedule in school-related work, breaks, sleep, exercise, nature, meals, cuddly time and fun time.
At this time, your children need more connection with you. It makes them feel safe and calms their nervous systems. Your presence (without screens!) will help them keep regulated. Take hug breaks from your work and remember to praise. Humor is always a great stress reliever for us all.
I will be posting ideas for activities and ways to help keep your children regulated on a weekly basis or more as my work schedule allows.
Be safe, be well and be present.